The East African Community has kicked-off national launches of the 50 Million African Women Speak Networking Platform (50MAWS), a digital platform aimed at empowering millions of women in Africa to start, grow and scale up their businesses.
Gracing the national launch for the United Republic of Tanzania at the Karimjee Hall, in Dar es Salaam, Ummy Mwalimu, Minister of Minister of Health, Community Development, Gender, seniors and Children, said the government of Tanzania has received the project, and was happy to embrace the initiative to further enable women to connect, network and transact business.
“Implementing this project is critical in the empowerment of women in the region,” the Minister said, adding that the platform presents an opportunity to heighten the economic empowerment of women in the region.
Mwalimu called upon womenfolk to pursue bigger entrepreneurial dreams, such as value addition in the value-chains and tapping the export markets.
“I call upon the Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce to work with women and assist them to develop business proposals that can attract access to finance,” she added.
Speaking during the same occasion, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Christophe Bazivamo, said that the 50MAWS Platform has been developed using information and content collected nationally and regionally, and therefore contains information closer to home and within reach in terms of reaching markets within the region.
“I am aware that women in business present here today are already leveraging technology to market their products, designs and artworks. They are using the global social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and others to promote their products. The good news today is that we are going local with this new platform,” said Bazivamo.
The DSG said that the project was in line with Article 122 of the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC, which provides for the enhancement of the role of Women in Business.
“Our Partner States recognize the importance of women as a vital economic link between agriculture, Industry and trade, and therefore undertake to increase the participation of Women in business at the policy formulation and implementation levels as well as promote special programmes for women in small, medium and large scale enterprises”, he said.
In her welcoming remarks, the EAC Director for Social Sectors, Mary Makoffu, said the platform also aims to build on the popularity of mobile phones so that the burden of learning and accessing information and services is limited, allowing women to manage their businesses and social circumstances.
“Overall, the platform intends to create a dynamic and engaging networking platform among women entrepreneurs, connecting them with one another in ways that will foster peer to peer learning mentoring and the sharing of information and knowledge,” added Ms. Makoffu.
The Tanzania launch also marked the beginning of a solid partnership between the 50 Million African Women Speak Networking Platform and the Tanzania Women Chamber of Commerce (TWCC), with TWCC pledging its support in promoting uptake and use of the platform my their members.
The chairperson of the Chamber, Ms. Jacqueline Maleko, said that the TWCC has a 6,000-strong membership with economic empowerment of women as the main agenda.
“We are now ready to move to all regions of the country and train the women, on the use of the 50MAWS platform, to enable women network and do business with their peers across the continent,” said Ms. Maleko.
The launch of the platform was preceded by training sessions on tax requirements and updates by the Tanzania Revenue Authority; access to finance and various packages designed for women in business by CRDB Bank; and practical guide on registering and using the online 50MAWS platform.
Accessible at www.womenconnect.org, and covering 38 African states under the EAC, the Common Market for East and Southern African (COMESA) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) blocs, the innovative platform aims to economically empower women by providing a one-stop shop for their specific business information needs.
The project is being jointly implemented by EAC, COMESA, and ECOWAS with funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB). Continentally unveiled during the Global Gender Summit in November 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda, the platform enables women in Member/Partner States of the three regional economic blocs and other African countries to find information on how to run businesses, where to access financial services, how to create business opportunities online and where to access training resources.
The platform also gives women an opportunity to showcase their products and connect with a market of millions across the continent, in addition to leveraging opportunities for peer-to-peer learning and mentorship as part of a dynamic online community of entrepreneurs.